Labour Councillors on Maghull Town Council got a sneak preview of a World War I sculpture by world-renowned Liverpool artist Tom Murphy this week.
The 30ft frieze, which is the first memorial to the Liverpool Pals, has been created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.
It is scheduled to be unveiled on August 31 at Lime Street Station in honour of the 1,050 men who volunteered to go to war when they signed up at St George's Hall on August 31, 1914
Tom Murphy's sculptures can be found throughout Merseyside and beyond. They include the John Lennon sculpture at John Lennon Airport, the Bill Shankly sculpture outside Anfield, the Dixie Dean bronze at Goodison, and the Bessie Braddock and Ken Dodd statues at Lime Street. Last year his memorial to the Hillsborough disaster was unveiled at Old Haymarket.
Labour Councillors on Maghull Town Council have decided to support the creation of the historic frieze as part of the town's World War I commemorations.
The town councillors are working on holding a special memorial dinner at Maghull Town Hall in November, with proceeds contributing to the long-term upkeep of the sculpture.
Maghull Town Council Labour leader Cllr Patrick McKinley, World War I commemoration committee chairwoman and Labour Councillor June Burns and town council clerk Angela McIntyre joined Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund chairman Lt Col (retd) Anthony Hollingsworth to be given a sneak preview of the sculpture in the artist's workshop ahead of the grand unveiling in three months time.
Cllr Burns said she was "hugely impressed" by the artwork.
Cllr Burns said: "This memorial frieze really is an astounding achievement. The scale of the sculpture and the level of detail is brilliant. It was a real privilege to get to see it up close before it is officially unveiled.
"The sculpture shows young men signing up at St George's Hall and heading off to war from Lime Street Station, followed by horrific battle scenes and the returning heroes who are visibly scarred by their experiences. It's an amazing piece of work that really encapsulates the innocence of the many young men who were going off on a big adventure, and the fewer young men who eventually returned as totally different people.
"Tom has agreed to come to our Maghull Town Council World War I fundraising memorial dinner at the town hall in November. And he has even agreed to donate one of his working sketches of the sculpture to the dinner which we will auction off on the night.
"This is a great cause and it commemorates young men from here in Maghull and the surrounding area who died in the horrific conflict."
Maghull Town Council Labour leader Cllr Patrick McKinley said the fundraising dinner will be the pinnacle of a series of commemorations to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Cllr McKinley said: "World War I saw young men from right here in Maghull being signed up at St George's Hall and sent off abroad to fight for their country, just like the young men depicted in Tom's sculpture. These were ordinary boys and young men who left their families, many never to return home again.
"It is that sacrifice and the sacrifice that those who returned home never the same again, as well as the sacrifice of the families left behind that need to be commemorated.
"My colleagues and I on Maghull Town Council want to ensure that the community of Maghull never forgets what so many people went through on their behalf.
"The frieze depicts the initial optimism of young people caught up in a spirit of adventure, through to the reality of war, eventually leading to fewer returning home, many with lives in tatters.
"Cllr Burns and the World War I commemoration committee has planned a real year of commemoration which everyone, young or old, will be able to get involved in. And I am sure the community of Maghull will support us and help us remember what people from Maghull went through 100 years ago.
"Tom Murphy's frieze will be a piece of history that the community of Maghull has supported and helped to make a reality."
Speaking at his studio, Tom Murphy thanked Maghull Town Council for their support.
The artist said: "I really appreciate and I am delighted that Maghull Town Council is supporting the fundraising and creation of this piece of artwork which is designed to commemorate the Liverpool Pals who fought in World War I.
"I gave a talk recently to Sefton Art Group in Maghull where I talked about the Liverpool Pals memorial. I was delighted with the response I got and it is one of the best days I have had giving talks. I was made very welcome and the people in the audience were very enthusiastic about the sculpture.
"I am delighted that Maghull Town Council is supporting the Liverpool Pals project and I am really looking forward to coming to the fundraising dinner at Maghull Town Hall on November 14."
Lt Col Hollingsworth said: "The primary objective for this charity is to raise awareness of the sacrifice of the young men from this area who went off to war, many of whom never returned home and those who did come back were never the same again. Tom Murphy's brilliant sculpture does just that.
"Some of the young men who went off to fight with the Pals were from here in Maghull. Young people who were going off from home not knowing what to expect. In some instances, whole families were lost. In some areas whole streets lost a generation of young men.
"Six-thousand Liverpool Pals went off to war. Nearly half of them never came home.
"By making young people aware of the sacrifice that the Liverpool Pals made, we can work to make sure that nothing like that happens again.
"We are really pleased with the support of the people of Maghull and the town council and we are looking forward to attending the memorial dinner in November."
Tickets for the memorial dinner at Maghull Town Hall are £25. Contact Maghull Town Hall on 0151 526 3705 for further details.
Sculptor Tom Murphy and Liverpool Pals Memorial Fund chairman Lt Col (retd) Anthony Hollingsworth gives a sneak preview of the frieze to Maghull Town Council Labour leader Cllr Patrick McKinley, Maghull Town Council World War I commemoration committee chairwoman Cllr June Burns and town council clerk Angela McIntyre.